The Good Life Lab's Blog Babies - Anikos Herbal Education

Since my book, The Good Life Lab was published in June 2013, I've received sweet letters of praise that I have savored as they fill my heart to the very top.

More than a few who wrote to me said the book influenced them to make a decision different than the one they were about to make before reading the book. One reader said, "I was afraid to read your book." She knew it contained a something that may sway her. It did. Usually the through process people describe to me is something like, "I was going to move to the city and start building a career but decided to take a six month road trip with my husband first and think things through." Then comes a story about remembering that they had a dream that would not take flight if they took the career path before them. Then the new decision. "So I decided to by our family farm and raise my kids there." Or in Aniko's case, she went to herbalism school. When she wrote to tell me about her life changing decisions I replied suggesting she start a blog, advice I give to everyone starting a journey. Journey's are important, interesting, and ought to be shared. Here's the one she started. Yay Aniko!

Swap-O-Rama-Rama @ The Maker Fare - Ten Years of Good Fun & Creative Reuse

This year marks the tenth that Swap-O-Rama-Rama was produced at the Maker Faire (in San Mateo, CA). From the start this has been a charmed pairing. I remember the very first year in which I, along with the MF staff, celebrated as Swap-O-Rama-Rama was immediately embraced by Maker Faire attendees. Local talent showed up in droves to teach attendees to sew, stitch, deconstruct, and hack textiles. Thousands of pounds of textiles were repurposed and saved from landfill. Silk screeners threw down designs that were so out-of -the-box that lines to obtain them wrapped around the 6,000 sq ft room that the swap was in. Today the event features a speaking lounge for talks of all things fashion and textile. The fashion show was packed with creative people young an old ogling over the new creative opportunity made available at the faire, textiles!!

Today I take a back seat to the Swap-O-Rama-Rama's production. The San Mateo faire swap is produced by Erin Scholl who also runs a regular running Swap-O-Rama-Rama in the bay area. Thanks to Erin and the fantastic and loyal staff that she's put together for yet another fantastic event. Here are some photos from the event that took place last week.


Exactly How Long You Can Be Anywhere

Since leaving New Mexico, a state that could easily be called the free spirit of the west, I have noticed that free space is hard to find. Today I encountered a sign at Whole Foods that indicated exactly how long I was expected to spend in Whole Foods according to Whole Foods. The length of time is not more than 90 minutes at which time the corporation will have my vehicle towed. Now this is in spite of the fact that the Whole Foods I visited contained a brewery, pizza restaurant, sushi bar, and a fireplace with seating around it. Have fun, but not more than 90 minutes of it.

This was in keeping with signs we've read all along our route from Colorado to Cali. A sign posted in a public park in the county of Del Norte, CA read, "no free picnicking." Really. Why? Ubiquitous were signs stating, "No Overnight Parking."

Growing up I recall that my friends and I regularly parked around the burbs. Favorite spots included behind the Morton Village Shopping Center, the woods behind the USPS building, in sumps, cemeteries, and abandoned lots where homes had not yet been built. Kids love these kinds of nooks. But even then, one did not have to hide, we liked to hide. We also hung out wherever we wanted and regularly parked in any ol' lot, by a store or business, or an empty space be it an official park or not. Back then (oh my do I sound old!) cops took you home to your mother if you were found in a precarious position, not to jail. Humm.. do you think this may have to do with the fact that jails were not privately funded profit centers in the late 70s and 80s?

Before leaving T or C, a place where free space is still abundant, a friend from Wyoming told us that his state proudly hosted city parks with bathrooms and running water . They welcome guests (even those who sleep in cars and tents) for three days. Now that's more like it.

Although it has not been written, I think that we can say that it is illegal to live an indigenous life. No one is free to exist in space as space is no longer free. We are pointed to private property as the only space we have a right to exist in. If your lucky enough to own some, life is a little easier. If you add to this lonely picture that today more than half of the states in America have made feeding homeless people illegal, one has to wonder where the heart of our nation has gone.

East Forest In Portland - A Boondock for Aesthetic Junkies

My dad is in his 80s and of a generation that is wildly impressed by the wonder workings of the internet. He is truly Amazed by the friends I have who live in various states and countries, all of whom I have web-based relationships with. His orbit is limited to where he can drive or walk. When I told my dad about boondocking he could hardly believe the oddities of modern nomadic life.

Since we moved into the Honda Element, Mikey and I have boondocked with Mikey's aunt in Coos Bay and recently in Portland with our friends Trevor and Katrina. Boondocking is a hybrid of staying at someone's home and living in your vehicle. When boondocking we sleep on our 4" memory foam bed in the Honda, use our hosts kitchen and bath, and charge electronics off their power. Its a nice hybrid, having your own personal space and giving your host some.

Visiting Trevor and Katrina I wondered if I got a glimpse of what our dog Sesame experiences on the road. Each time the car door opens a new world appears with smells, sounds and sights different from the last. Trevor and Katrina's home is a noticable aesthetic shift to an earthy, Etsy'esque, creative, play space with its own unique sound track. Trevor handmade much of the furniture and the sound. A musician and woodworker, his home is a fingerprint.  I appreciate people who recognize that details matter. Scent, sound, pace, color. . . some people can dial up beauty in each moment.

At home in New Mexico and in the car on the road, the ONLY music that Mikey and I play without asking the other's approval is Trevor, aka East Forest. I am pretty sure Trevor has connected to something as primal as my DNA. I am grateful. After a couple of days in their dreamy wonder-world we invited them to check out the Honda-world in their driveway. I was hardly surprised when Trevor recommended we get glow in the dark stars for the ceiling or a bliss light for ambiance. Silly me, how did I not think of that! This is what friends are for.


The Thing About Doing New Things

Readers of this blog know that Mikey and I enjoy newness. We embrace change and like to reinvent ourselves. Mikey admits, "I like to do whatever is trending." But change is also a sign of the times we are living in. People today must be adaptive. Many of us will have dozens of jobs in our lifetime and move from place to place having no connection to land. I find it to be true that what is trending is often interesting - not so much fashion and pop music but health and lifestyle. Trends carry the memes that express the collective unconscious, and map where we're heading, what we need, and what we are learning. One thing is for sure, newness triggers awareness. The trend we're currently following, living out of a Honda Element, has me spinning.

It has been a month on the road and I'm triggered, downright irritated, and awe struck. Jostled from familiar, comfortable, routine life now regularly kicks up metaphorical subconscious dust. My sketch book journal contains more than a few scribbles like this: lose, misplace items, no systems, ever day anew = need to let go, trust more, accept chance. Here's another. . .  things happen ready or not. A hike without water, suddenly dinner = be flexible. Social anxiety. What armor is going up here? Must have enough downtime in which to recharge. The funniest recent scribble was, I am too old to do this. There is also this note to self: return to retreat practices, create an on the road set of practices: yoga, meditation, and morning pages.

You can see in these notes a desire for order and repetition. Perpetual newness is currently more tiring than exciting which is interesting because when I was a bit younger it was the other way around. This sparks contemplative questions about aging. What is this tendency telling me about myself? How should this decade of life be different from the previous?

Another observation that I've made is that I tend to do, and therefore become, the things I most need to learn. Throughout my life I've been called fearless. What I know to be true is something a little different. When I'm fearful I take on the thing that I'm afraid of. This is different than being fearless. I'm acutely aware of this right now each time I load a new GPS map in GaiaGPS on my phone, fill my hydration pack with water, and head out on a trail that leads me into a wilderness - to a place I've never been. I could find myself lost or become injured. I could panic. These are reasons to do it. Joy is an afterthought. Each time I enact this ritual I ask of the fear, will it be this time that it subsides? Maybe it never should. This might be the voice of my common sense making sure that I remember a lighter, knife, mace and extra water.

Living in a car, a condition in which each time the front door opens reveals a different set of faces, ideas, geographic icons, weather patterns, communal memories, and cultural trends ...  dials up everything I can muster about adaptation. Newness is all there is. Sometimes one finds there is no where to go. No where to park without paying, rest without noise, or change clothing without public view. There are many opportunities to see culture anew, to notice what it tells us about how we've shaped the world and how we may wish to change it.

I know that what follows is likely adaptation and then assimilation. Further down the road there may even be mastery. In this moment my brain is seeking for repetition, systems, and order. Ways to make linear and familiar what is chaotic and even frightening, though more often tiring. I remember that throughout my lifetime I amassed tools. I am a yogi, Sufi, athlete, artist, contemplative, entrepreneur, adventurer, nomad. Life calls for a review.


Oceanside Nap Near Mendocino

Being on the road has it's perks. If your car is also your house you can nap anytime you find a lovely spot for it. We took a midday nap along the coast on the Hwy 1 just after we pooped ourselves out with a few hours of laptop time at a cafe.

Boonville, CA in Beautiful Anderson Valley

I love Boonville, CA (pop about 1000). When I was traveling to promote my book in the summer of 2013 my publisher asked where I wanted to stay for the two days I had off while in N. California. I got in a rented car and drove north to stay at the Boonville Hotel. First I called them. Their rate was higher than what my publisher paid for overnights. I asked if they could cut me a break. They did!

Having lived for almost a decade in T or C, I was tuned to small town life. San Fran was too hectic, too busy. I had to rest. A friend from T or C had recommended Boonville. She said, "they care about food, even the gas station serves fresh homemade food worth eating." She was right.

When I got to Boonvilled every moment unfolded a conversation, or an interesting happening. I wound up on the local radio station, serendipidy.  My experience was the same this time around with Mikey.

The food was great, the people were friendly, the town was oh so pretty and full of people passing through but taking a good, long stop. The Brewery rocked! Yay Boonville!!

(Image: i was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take a bunch of pics in Boonville. These are of the Boonville, Hotel's grounds - lovely!)

Bruce's Swimming Hole

Bruce's Swimming Hole by mikey and wendy
Bruce's Swimming Hole, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

Another lovely morning of waking up along the Eel River. We did not try the rope swing, but we did go swimming. This spot was just north of Leggett, CA near one of the redwood trees that you can drive through.

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants by mikey and wendy
Avenue of the Giants, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

Hanging out in the Redwoods on our way to Arcata, CA.

What's Happening in Ft. Bragg, CA?



Slumber Logging

Slumber Logging by mikey and wendy
Slumber Logging, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

Last night I set a record. In slept for 8.5 hours with over 3.5 hours of restful sleep in there. You would think that sleeping in a little car with a Sesame and Wendy would be problematic, but it has been just the opposite.


Morning Run on the Western States Trail

While we are not crazy about Auburn there is no doubt that the Western States trail is a beautiful area. We enjoyed coffee followed by a lovely run out of the canyon.

Morning Run on the Western States Trail #3 Morning Run on the Western States Trail #2


The Best Part of Grass Valley

The Yuma river was definitely the best part of Grass Valley, CA. We really enjoyed hiking in and swimming along the river. It was particularly funny to watch everyone struggle to walk on the rocky beach.

Road Warrior eBay Setup

It doesn’t take much. A thermal printer, some padded flat rate envelopes, a tethered cellphone and a laptop and you to can sell on the go.

What Is The Deal With The Yard Sale Signs in Reno?

Reno is the first city we have come across that has a art work all over their yard sale signs. We kept seeing poster after poster with imagery on it. Eventually we stopped to get a snap.


Plenty of Room in Reno

My awareness of Reno, NV has until now had to do with Burning Man. The years that I attended the desert experiment I flew to Reno or drove to Reno having flown to LAX or the San Fran airport. In Reno I hit Home Depot and Trader Joe's to stock up for the adventure ahead. I caught brief glimpses of the place, casinos and bits of run down city that had led me to think of Reno as gambling and drinking. A place of general debauchery. I considered it the Atlantic City of the west coast. Somehow the debauchery I was headed into at Burning Man was different than what happened in Reno. Admittedly I prefered The Playa's esthetic and crowd. I despise gambling.

Mikey and I spent the last couple of days with a friend who we knew in NYC and who had also spent time with us in Truth or Consequences. Jeremy relocated to Reno. When I first heard I wondered why. This week I saw a very different Reno than I was holding in my imagination. For one thing Reno is pretty. Yep, tree lined, hilly and a mix of burbs, farms, and urban landscape. Somehow these things fit together well. Perhaps it is because Reno is not overpopulated. Reno is spacious, there is room for everyone. I heard that during the 2008 crash Reno was hit pretty hard. Many people left leaving behind infrastructure like old tudor homes and mid century modern public buildings. Downtown Reno has no shortage of places for socializing including breweries, restaurants of all variety, an art spaces similar to the Bay Area's American Steel or Brooklyn's Third Ward. Reno reminded me of Austin and of Little Five Points, Atlanta, cities in which people live in houses and not sky rises.

After the 08' crash Reno stopped building until the homes that had been left empty were filled again. Older homes were renovated and updated. Recently building restarted. People are coming back. Elon Musk's automotive and battery mega corp Tesla is opening shop. Despite growth, Reno (like Durango) has lovely resources (water not being one of them) with few people vying for them. Lets not forget the natural resources like mountains, rivers, and lakes, and abundant skiing, fishing, and hiking. There is room in Reno and it feels good. If Reno marked off a green belt like Boulder and Portland the now moderate home prices would likely skyrocket locking as they would preserve what is currently a good quality of life.

From what I could tell Reno is a mix of Californians from the Bay Area and Burners (folks who came to Burning Man and decided to stay) who contribute to a growing art scene. In two days I saw three art cars roll down main thoroughfares. Several of the garage sales I went to had boxes of costumes for sale. Reno also has a local Nevadian who is closer to the land than the newer comers. Farming and ranching can be found in the city limits. While folks in Truckee made a point of saying, "I'm from California (not Nevada)." In Reno the bragging rights include lower taxes than Cali, and cheap petro fuel.

Hesitatingly we left Reno for Grass Valley, CA today but I plan to return Reno to have a closer look. #renoiscool


Truckee, Ca - Good Natured People In– Good Nature

We're heading out of Truckee, Ca today. We've been here for nearly a week. Everything you may have heard about Truckee is true. It is a beautiful place. A river runs through town carrying fresh mountain snow melt. Several lakes offer cold dips, beach, boating and pretty views. Despite a four year dry period - the river is low, skiing impaired, and rafting out of the question, residents and tourists alike find ways to enjoy nature's bounty. People are biking, hiking, and running everywhere.

This place has a tourist season that we missed by arriving early. I hear that during it's peak it can take 40 minutes to cross through the tiny town. Some local say that they hide out on weekends during season leaving restaurants and commercial row to the visitors.

What you may not know about Truckee is that there is a kombucha co-op, a hacker space starting up, several breweries, and a community of technical and creative people, many from the Bay area who are telecommuting. Never before have I seen so many vehicles modified to be lived in - short and long term - nor have I met so many people who are living in a vehicle. Their reasons are many - some go place to place seeking outdoor adventure in every season (freelancers with jobs) while some young folks are a step from homeless. Despite the town's awareness of this lifestyle, the police are gentle in their handling of vagabonds. In town public parks welcome all and for us have become a place to meet other vehicle dwellers. Just three miles from the center of downtown national forest campsites welcome overnighters at no fee. There's even a spot - loud and by a train but free - in the heart of downtown featuring signs that read "free parking 6pm to 10am."

There's money here. Most young people (in their 20s) drive newish high end vehicles meant for mixed terrain. Their toys are not cheap, roof racks house all variety of board and bike.

Truckee's best feature is the warmth and casual nature of the folks who live here. All admit that it is a transient place, people come for a while, even a few years, but not may stay for the duration. Most residents seem ready for conversation short or long, while standing in line or hanging out at a park. You won't find people rushing or honking on Truckees roads. The population of under 20k consider the region their extended home and they take advantage of Reno, and the many communities around Lake Tahoe. People on the CA side of the Cal/Nev border have made it a point of pride to live in Cali. Nearby on Lake Tahoe, Incline Village take a bad rap for being occupied by unwelcoming millionaires that don't share their town with anyone. When we drove through gates closed off every possible ancillary road, beaches were fenced and signs reminded all to keep moving.

Lastly, Truckee features a culture of dog lovers. Sesame made a dozen new, short term dog friends a day, has been welcome in many of the town's businesses, and is adored by the human population as well.

We loved Truckee. It's well worth a stop, even a extended stay.

River Yoga with Sesame

There is nothing like getting in some yoga after living in a vehicle for two weeks.